Rivenrock Gardens Cactus Blog

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New Photo Gallery

  We just put up a new photo album. It is arranged into twelve albums and has over 1,300 photos.


The photos cover some of  the beaches, hills, deserts and cities of California.



Nice Knucklehead

    Harley Davidson Motorcycle Company has been around since 1907.


    History has been made with Harleys. They accompanied our soldiers on war… our Police use them to maintain order… and Bikers use them to have fun and get around.


    They can be clanky smoke belching monsters that rattle the teeth out of their rider’s heads…. and they can lead to a big smile while riding… a smile that will surely leave bugs in the rider’s teeth, if he still had any.


   A Harley is the closest thing to a horse you can find…. but it goes faster.


   There’s nothing like the wind running past you as you scream up a mountain pass…. coming over the saddle you can see the great expanse of landscape God gave us…. the horizon opening as the doors of the hills fly by your tearing eyes…. even the Central Valley is a beautiful sight to see from the seat of a Harley.


   Our town is made up of the children of the Dust Bowl and the original ranchers that raised cattle for the Spanish Crown.  Our local teams sport names reminiscent of the Olde West… names such as ‘Cowboys’.  Half of the buildings in the ‘Olde Towne Nipomo’ are ‘false-front’ buildings… favored in the old west days to make the town seem bigger, more settled and prosperous from the main street.


   We like our horses in this town… we’re cowboys and ranchers in this town… our local bar has ‘Saloon’ in the name…. and we ride Harleys because they won’t let us take horses onto the Highway anymore.


   Nipomo is a good town for sure.  But I fit in just fine with Cowboys, Rednecks and Bikers….


   I was going past the Saloon the other day, and saw that ‘Dusty’ had his newly restored 1931 Harley Davidson ‘Knucklehead’ in his truck. I just had to take a photo.


  Some fellow told Dusty he ought to charge me ten dollars.  Then some chick came out and said she’d take her clothes off and pose nude on it for twenty dollars more…. but this is a family website…. and Vickie’d not let me alone in town if I came back with pictures like that.


1931 Harley Davidson knucklehead

1931 Harley Davidson knucklehead



     Going through old motorcycle photos, I found another nice one that I saw recently….


   The fellow who put this motorcycle together is an actor…. he makes an occasional appearance on ‘Sons of Anarchy’. I met him on the set of ‘Sympathy for Delicious’.   He’s got a really nice ride….










   A nice ride.

Summer Nights


  We had winter last month. For a few nights it got below freezing every night which caused me to take some extreme protective tactics with the nopal cactus.

   But now, for the last week we’ve had temperatures approaching into the seventies in the mid day. And it’s only gotten into the mid forties the last few nights. This is perfect conditions for the cactus, and it also seems perfect conditions for all plants and creatures in this area.

   This morning, with a  warm breeze blowing, the sky still just turning gray, a large owl sat in the tree across from us… hooting away.

  The song by ‘Lil Rob’ called ‘Summer Nights’ perfectly encapsulates what a warm evening can do.

~Lil Rob~
‘Summer Nights’

Them summer nights can keep a smile on your face
Gotta try to have a good time with your life otherwise it’s just a waste
Either way I’m gonna party just in case
Like Prince partied like it was ’99, in ’87, ’88
I couldn’t ask for no better weather,
I’m right next to the Pacific to be specific
The candy paint job glows under the moon light
As I close out my summer night and say good night
It’s time to put the top up and park it, drop it
Unplug the ground, roll up the windows and lock it
Walk into the pad and fall into bed
As she lays on my chest to rest her sleepy head
And we do this all night long
From dusk ’til dawn
But it’s not the quite the same when summer nights are gone
But even when they’re gone, it wont be long
Eight more months and once again it’s on

Summer days just sitting around,
but when the sun goes down I’ll be ready to party
Ain’t nothing like them summer nights
Keep the top on drop while the girls looking hot,
hit the volo and we just don’t stop
Party until the morning light

Ain’t nothing like them summer nights



   But summer doesn’t last forever, and this brief respite in the winter, which we usually get every year, will be replaced by frost, and fierce northern winds.

   So, I’m enjoying this warm nice weather, and the cactus are too.



Kaplan Cycles – Grand Opening Bash!!!

Central Coast Today

vjsjoy has invited you to the event ‘Mike Kaplan Cycles – Grand Opening Bash!!!’ on Central Coast Today!

Check out “Mike Kaplan Cycles – Grand Opening Bash!!!” on Central Coast Today


Time: November 22, 2008 at 12pm
Location: Mike Kaplan Cycles
Organized By: Mike Kaplan

Event Description:
Mike Kaplan Cycles Grand Opening Bash!
Come and check his new shop and all the great bikes and great people!
Music – Valerie Johnson & the New Sound Boogie Band
50/50 Raffle and more…
Tri-Tip BBQ – proceeds benefits the kids of Camp Hapitok
See more details and RSVP on Central Coast Today:


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This Cowboy’s Hat, Chris LeDoux


   What a story. A legend, sung by a legend… Chris LeDoux…RIP



It was not ‘my kind’ of church

   A quarter century ago, a church in a nearby town was having a Christmas show. This show entailed a huge map-drawing of the Holy Land on the church floor. Each city and town with a mention in the Bible had a small group of church members depicting some famous scene from the Bible.


   This show seemed very interesting to me, it would combine so many of my favorite subjects; geography, sociology, religion, acting (through the actions of the actors) and perhaps plants (I mean, there is a whole slew of plants mentioned in the Bible, one could have a great time building one’s own ‘Biblical Garden’ using such plants).


  So it was with a happy heart, high with the season of Christmastime which has always been my favorite season when everyone seems so much more jubilant and positive than most of the year, I decided to go and see this celebration. The event was going on through the entire day, so I could show up any time between the posted hours and see the show. Since we usually get such fine weather in December, and the sun was shining warm on this Saturday morning, I decided to take my motorcycle. Now, my motorcycle is a bit like me, it’s loud strong and large. And put me on that chopped 1960 Harley with my big leather jacket with all my 6’4″ 235 lbs stuffed in and covered with hair, leather, denim and boots… and pull up to a church parking lot and walk in…. I think I kind of scared them. I was nice, I waited in the line in the lobby and signed the ledger book, smiling and talking nice like I usually do with people,  and two fellows in suits came up and whispered to the lady behind the table, and after they walked away she looked up at me, with vacant eyes, kind of a Stepford imitation, and she said “I’m sorry, but we don’t think this is the right church for you”.


   Smiling, aware of how I scared them by my appearance, I explained I wasn’t there to join their church, but I was coming to see the public event they had advertised in the paper.  She replied in the same way “we don’t think this is the right church for you”.  Well, if my looks will scare people enough that they can’t be comfortable, I’d rather not put them through the discomfort. So I told her that I’d just leave, and wished her a Merry Christmas.


   Ol’ Betsy started up on the first kick, I dropped her into first gear and started up the road, heading onto Santa Rosa road, and went over to Solvang where I just blend into the Scandinavian population.  And I had a Happy and Merry Christmas time.




‘Wind Up’

~Jethro Tull~




When I was young and they packed me off to school
And taught me how not to play the game,
I didn’t mind if they groomed me for success,
Or if they said that I was a fool.





So I left there in the morning
With their God tucked underneath my arm –
Their half-assed smiles and the book of rules.
So I asked this God a question
And by way of firm reply,
He said — I’m not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.




So to my old headmaster (and to anyone who cares):
Before I’m through I’d like to say my prayers…
I dont believe you:
You had the whole damn thing all wrong…
Hes not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.




Well you can excomunicate me on my way to sunday school
And have all the bishops harmonize these lines…
How do you dare tell me that I’m my fathers son
When that was just an accident of birth.
I’d rather look around me… compose a better song
`cause that’s the honest measure of my worth.




In your pomp and all your glory you’re a poorer man than me,
As you lick the boots of death born out of fear.
I don’t believe you;
You had the whole damn thing all wrong…
Hes not the kind you have to wind up on Sundays.



 Jethro Tull, Live in Florence, 1988
‘Wind Up’




~Khalil Gibran~


I have learnt silence from the talkative,
toleration from the intolerant,
and kindness from the unkind;
yet strange,
I am ungrateful to these teachers.




John in 2007




 This is me in 2007… hard as it is to believe, in 1984 I was even hairier.
On the one hand I don’t blame the people for being afraid of me…
But it would have been nice to be allowed in to see the play.
I’ve been followed by security in stores, been denied admission to a hostel due to my looks, and shuttled to the back and ignored in a restaurant.  The police have pulled me over because ‘the sun was reflecting off my tags and they could not tell if they were current or not’, and I was kicked out of the ‘Alamo’ in San Antonio (and threatened with jail) because I had a knife on me….one I carried always out of habit and the fact that I live and work on a farm in the wilderness.


   But those are all very rare occurances…
I have been treated with the greatest respect and hospitality by almost everyone I’ve ever met.  So for me life has been a half century of learning and loving and living…. I’ve been blessed to have met the people that I have, and everyone whether they treated me ill or kind was a teacher… and from the majority of them, I learned of kindness.



   But still it is a nice thing to have a little refuge back in the hills…. away from the teeming masses on the lowlands. A quiet, reverential place is Rivenrock…

Calif Native Garden Fundraiser

California Native Garden Foundation


Alrie Middlebrook who is an organizer of the California Native Garden Foundation sent us a letter recently to let us know of their fundraiser they are having soon. Here’s part of the e-mail she sent us…


 We are starting a movement in California with the intention of  reintroducing these native foods, which are highly nutritious and tasty to the people of California. The plants, if considered for agricultural crops, are the most sustainable sources of food. Just imagine, for example, how many resources could be saved if we are successful in creating clever ways to introduce acorns into mainstream diets. It would lead to a tremendous reduction in water use, a reduction in the use of petrochemicals for fertilizer and pest control, and less disturbance of natural ecosystems, to name a few of the obvious. We want you to be a part of this new food revolution in California.
 Because the Eating California classes are taught through the CNGF, this event is a fund raiser for the Foundation.  Whatever you can donate and at whichever level you choose, your benefits are described in the sponsorship attatchment. Our goals at the CNGF are to educate the people of California about how to garden with native plants, to help design, build and steward native gardens in schools and other community based non-profits and to help make more species of native plants available to more Californians. We believe one of the best ways to do this is to create and serve great tasting native foods. We hope you will help us by sponsoring Eating California at the highest level you choose.  Please find enclosed the Sponsorship Categories and a Press Release for the Event, as well as your invitation. Thank you.

  We’ll see you on Saturday night, August 2nd in Palo Alto for Eating California. Please join us for a prickly pear margarita at 5:30 and spend an evening celebrating and tasting the new food revolution of California.


   We’ve had association with Alrie and her group before. We were part of a huge fundraiser some five years ago where we showed up in San Jose with a truckload of cactus and merchandise. We really enjoyed the attendees, the roster of ‘mentionable people’ was impressive. Some of the largest names in the organics, native plants and edible cactus philosophies and trades were at hand. This time will surely be no different. The media of the Bay Area will be present, and Sunset magazine has expressed interest in attending also.

   Sadly, we’ll not be attending this time, but will donate a large box of cactus for the fundraiser… it is scheduled to ship on the 28th.  So if you do attend the fundraiser and eat some cactus, it could very well be from us.. Rivenrock Gardens.

Bubba Baker and the Real Bikers

Yep, old pal and home-town buddy Bubba Baker the tattoo artist (he did the Viking Ship Tattoo on my back some twenty five years ago) is a host of a television show called Real American Biker.

  Believe me, all four of these fellows are the real deal, yeah, they have been on television and movies playing bikers and tattoo artists, but they are not actors portraying these types of fellows, they are real bikers who have figured a way to keep themselves the way they are… and still survive in the capitalist system (the best one devised so far) using their skills and abilities to prosper and make a career out of being themselves!

   Bubba is a really great guy, oh yeah, he’s a huge dude, tattooed, bearded, and rides an ear-splitting chopper with the handlebars waaaay over his head.. but he’s also a man with a heart of gold who’d help an old lady with a flat tire, or the person who needs a jump or what-not, ( I would not associate with anyone who was not such a person). Yeah, he’s a good fellow, so it is my distinct pleasure and honor to introduce you to his show!